In a long-running battle, the Washington State Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to pay a fine of $100,000 a day for every day that it failed to produce a plan to change the funding of public schools in the state so that it meets constitutional requirements.

Now the Court wants to hold the legislature accountable for its turtle-like response.

Washington state has been here before, but this time the stakes are higher.

Attorneys for the state will appear Wednesday before the state Supreme Court to argue — once again — that lawmakers have complied with court orders to boost public school funding.

On the other side of the courtroom will be attorneys representing the coalition of parents, school districts and education groups that sued the state almost 10 years ago and maintains that lawmakers still haven’t done enough.

The hearing marks the latest development in the McCleary case, in which the state Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the Legislature was failing to fully fund basic education and must correct school-funding problems by 2018.

The state is now in contempt of court and accruing fines of $100,000 a day over the Legislature’s failure to produce a plan to meet the 2018 funding deadline.

On Wednesday, the court’s nine justices will hear arguments to help them decide whether to lift the contempt sanctions, or to impose more serious penalties that could dramatically alter next year’s budget debates at the state Capitol.

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The state contends that it has made lots of progress.

The chief justice was not so sure about the “progress”:

Chief Justice Barbara Madsen asked the state’s lawyer, deputy solicitor general Alan Copsey, to clarify when he thinks the deadline is for the state to fully fund public schools.

She compared the conversation to a child who promises to clean his or her room “in a little while.”

“I want to know when a little while is,” Madsen said.

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